Here it comes… the much-anticipated travel industry predictions for 2018.

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During the past fifteen years, 73% of my predictions have come true! Over the next four weeks, I will provide you with 60 of my travel industry crystal ball predictions. Here is week 1 of what I think will happen in 2018. Part 2 of 4 will arrive in your inbox next week.

#1 – Hotels will all require a 48-hour notice to avoid a one-night cancellation fee –

The hotel industry is struggling with how to deal with last minute hotel deals that have offered deep discounts for travelers to fill empty rooms. So when hotels have empty rooms they lower the prices and try to fill them. The problem is that savvy travelers were booking hotels in advance and canceling at the last minute to take advantage of lower prices (sometimes even at the same hotel they were booked in). Hotels hope the 48-hour cancellation window will drastically prohibit last-minute re-bookings from happening.

#2 – Sell all your airline stocks as their profits are falling like a rock –

During the last five years, the airlines have been printing money but things are changing fast with the airlines. Their profits are about to fall off a cliff. They are spending like drunken sailors. Airlines have been giving 30% pay raises, bought billions of dollars of new planes and now their fuel prices have almost doubled in the last year.

#3 – You will be able to buy airline tickets using Bitcoin in 2018 –

The cryptocurrency has exploded on the scene in 2017 and will make its way into the travel industry in 2018. Using Bitcoin saves the airlines the 2-3% fee they pay the credit card companies.

#4 – Airlines will charge a $10 service fee for using a credit card (Forgive me for sounding like a broken record) –

For five straight years, I have been predicting this will happen and I have been way ahead of my time (a nice way of saying I was wrong). But this year is different as there is too much money on the table for the airlines to keep ignoring this golden egg. Airlines pay anywhere from 2-3% of the cost of your airline ticket to credit card companies when you charge your airline ticket to a credit card. Charging a small fee to use your credit card is actually being done now in Europe by some airlines. Credit card fees are the next big pot of gold the airlines can attack to move profits back in a positive direction.

#5 – Airport parking will cost more than the plane ticket to Europe in 2018 –

Low-fare European airlines are invading the U.S. and are bringing with them low airfare prices ($69 to $99 one way) that will shock Americans into flying to Europe in 2018. Norwegian Airlines, WOW Airlines and others are becoming a major competitive problem for the American flagged carriers who have made hay with international routes to Europe. Compare parking your car in the airport garage at $25 a day for a two-week vacation and you will have spent $300 for parking vs. $200 for an airline ticket. (Please note that $99 fares are extremely limited and are only available from certain cities).

#6 – Airlines will start charging baggage fees for international flights –

In the past airlines did not charge baggage fees for passengers flying international flights. Delta started charging for checked bags on transatlantic flights last year for passengers flying coach. Now Delta and American say they will expand “basic economy” fares worldwide in 2018. This means if you purchase the lowest fare for international travel you have to pay for everything, like bags, seat assignments, carry-on, etc.

#7 – You will not have to pay to use the restroom on flights in 2018 –

I say this “tongue-in-cheek” as all these fees the airlines charge are getting ridiculous.

#8 – Did Your butt get bigger or the did the airplane seats get smaller in 2018 –

All the major airlines are trying to quietly put more seats on airplanes so they can make more money on every flight. The seats are getting so small they are actually painful to sit in for many flyers. I am 6’4” tall and it is almost impossible for me to fit my legs between the seats. Even the “economy comfort” seats offered by all the major airlines that offer 4-5 inches more legroom are better but they are also decreasing the width of the seats so a flight that lasts over one hour is like being in a torture chamber.

#9 – Throw away your boarding pass in 2018 as biometric will be the future of security check-in –

The airlines and the government are beta testing the use of biometrics (fingerprint, eye scan, etc) as a more secure way to get you through security lines and onto the planes. I have had two times last year that I did not have to present a photo ID when clearing security.

#10 – Global Entry Pass and TSA PreCheck will merge in 2018 –

Having a Global Entry Pass becomes a “must” for international travelers. For a $100 fee, a traveler can purchase a five-year pass that puts you in the express lane when re-entering the U.S. and clearing immigration. Some people do not realize that a Global Entry Pass also provides complimentary TSA pre-check for express lines when clearing security check-points at U.S. airports. I anticipate that these two will be merged in 2018 so there is no more confusion and people will not buy TSA PreCheck access only to find out they have to buy Global Entry Pass if they travel internationally.

#11 – Airline frequent flyer miles become useless for 80% of flyers –

The airlines continue to make major changes to their frequent flyer programs. So much so that for over 80% of the flyers who do not fly enough to gain preferred status will find belonging to an airline’s frequent flyer program is probably worthless. The airlines
no longer award points based on miles flown, but on how much you paid for your ticket. For the average person this means you will have to take almost twice as many flights to earn a freebie. If you fly twice a year it could take you 10 years to earn a free ticket. The only way most people will earn enough miles for a free ticket is if they have a credit card that offers 2X points for their groceries and gas they charge.

#12 – Americans will stampede to Hawaii this year as the airlines lower prices and fare war erupts from the west coast –

Airfares to Hawaii from the west coast of the U.S. have dropped below $400 from many cities recently. Several airlines are fighting for market share as Southwest Airlines announced they will start flying to Hawaii and none of the airlines want to give up market share. Expect hotel prices in Hawaii to stay high, however, as more demand will bring higher prices.

#13 – 2018 will be the first year you can travel and leave your wallet at home –

This is finally the year I will be able to travel and leave my wallet at home. My plan is to take a flight for a business trip and leave my wallet, cash and credit cards at home. With my iPhone and Apple Pay I can pay for my gasoline, buy a sandwich at Subway or McDonalds, buy medicine at Walgreens, and clothing at JC Penney. I can also have Uber pick me up and drop me off at the airport. Using a travel company like Executive Travel to prepay for my airline tickets and hotel lodging before I leave town, all I need to take with me is my smartphone (iPhone) and a driver’s license to get through airport security. Finally, technology makes my life easier! P.S. Just don’t lose your iPhone!

#14 – Airplane Wi-Fi will finally get better in 2018 –

Using Wi-Fi on a plane can be an adventure as it is often painfully slow and constantly going on and off. In 2018 most major airlines will start the process of upgrading the Wi-Fi service so people will actually want to pay for it.

#15 – Free texting on flights will be common in 2018 –

Three cheers for Delta Air Lines who was the first to offer free SMS texting during flights. This is a great service that will open the door so that the other airlines will be in a competitive position so that they have to offer SMS messaging as well for FREE!

Need information on any of the above?
Call our friendly travel advisors…
Lincoln – 402-435-8888 Toll-free 800-737-0582